Political Science

Here is David Goodhart writing about the UK:

…while many people in the top 20 or 30 per cent of the educational and economic hierarchy have become less attached to national social contracts in the past couple of generations, most people have actually become MORE attached to them. There are several reasons for this. The welfare state has been expanding not contracting in recent decades—think tax credits and the rise of housing benefit—and although state employment overall has been in decline, if you live in some of the most run down parts of Britain you are more likely than ever to be employed by the state. The fragmentation and disappearance of a once familiar industrial working class culture and the declining status of much non-graduate employment may also have contributed to a greater attachment to the symbols and benefits of national citizenship. The loss of tight local communities may have produced a stronger attachment to the imagined community of the nation. And the benefits of national belonging CAN be diminished by European integration and rapid, large scale immigration: this is not merely false consciousness.

The article is of more interest generally, and for the pointer I thank Alex X.

Heard in Baghdad: “I never thought Britain would break up before .”

That was from Ben Wedeman

I’m afraid we are about to find out that most, if not all, the Remain economic warnings were true

That was from John Gapper

CNH at 6.65. Forget Brexit. If PBOC piggybacking on this, this will be the new story

That was from Christopher Balding

worth remembering that no European country has had an election/referendum explicitly pitting national vs EU where EU won. None.

That was from Austan Goolsbee

Weird night for Netflix to drop the first live episode of Black Mirror.

That was from Le Vine

ITV now reporting that Sinn Fein calling for new vote on united Ireland. Brexiters were adamant that this wouldn’t happen.

That was from Simon Nixon

Thank goodness the world economy has the steady hand of the American voter to steer it to calmer waters.

That was from Justin Wolfers

My sympathies with Mexicans out there wondering why their currency has been smashed by 5.6% on a UK election result.

That was from Toby Nangle

No political change was ever postponed because it would freak out traders.

That was from Kristi Culpepper

Though I don’t drink, some nights I need to stay up a little later.

That was from me

There is audio, video, and transcript at the link.  I introduced Cass like this:

The Force is strong with this one. Cass is by far the most widely cited legal scholar of his generation. His older book, Nudge, and his new book on Star Wars are both best sellers, and he was head of OIRA [Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs] under President Obama from 2009 to 2013. Powerful, you have become.

So tonight I’d like to start with a survey of Cass’s thought. We’re going to look at legal theory and then go to Nudge and then consider Star Wars, how it all ties together, and then we’re going to talk about everything.

On every point Cass responded clearly and without evasion.  We talked about judicial minimalism, Bob Dylan’s best album, the metaphysics of nudging, Possession, the ideal size of the Supreme Court, the wisdom of Yoda, Hayek, why people should choose their own path, the merits of a banned products store, James Joyce, why the prequels are underrated, and which of the first six movies is the worst of the lot.  Here is one bit:

COWEN: Let’s take a concrete example from real life: Jedi mind tricks. Obi-Wan comes along and says, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” And what does the stormtroooper do? He goes away. Now, is that a nudge?

SUNSTEIN: No, it’s a form of manipulation. So — .

[laughter]

COWEN: OK, but how do you draw the metaphysical categories? It seems like a nudge that just happens to work all the time.

SUNSTEIN: OK. I’ll give you a quick and dirty way of getting at that…

Here is another:

COWEN: If you were to pick one character from Star Wars who would nudge you — you get to elect them; you’re the only vote. Even Samantha doesn’t get a vote, just Cass — not your children — which character would you pick? Whom would you trust with that nudge? It’s a universe full of Jedi here, right?

SUNSTEIN: Yoda.

COWEN: Yoda?

SUNSTEIN: I trust that guy.

COWEN: But I worry about Yoda.

SUNSTEIN: I trust him.

Finally:

SUNSTEIN: Thank God for libertarian paternalism, that Luke has a choice. The Sith, by the way, like the Jedi, respect freedom of choice. In the crucial scene in Episode III where the question is whether Anakin is going to save the person who would be emperor, he says, “You must choose.” And so there’s full respect for freedom of choice. Nudgers have that. Good for them.

COWEN: Bad guys always tell you the deal, and then they say, “Choose evil.” It seems the good guys always mislead you.

There’s this funny tension. Star Wars makes me more nervous about nudge. I’m not like this huge anti-nudge guy, but when I look at Obi-Wan and Yoda lying to Luke — “Ben, Ben, Ben, why didn’t you tell me?” How many times have I heard that in these movies?

SUNSTEIN: It’s fair to ask whether Obi-Wan and Yoda had it right.

There is much, more more…self-recommending!

View story at Medium.com

Very often they are passed down father to son.  Here is a recent paper by Avdeenko and Siedler:

This study analyzes the importance of parental socialization on the development of children’s far right-wing preferences and attitudes towards immigration. Using longitudinal data from Germany, our intergenerational estimates suggest that the strongest and most important predictor for young people’s right-wing extremism are parents’ right-wing extremist attitudes. While intergenerational associations in attitudes towards immigration are equally high for sons and daughters, we find a positive intergenerational transmission of right-wing extremist party affinity for sons, but not for daughters. Compared to the intergenerational correlation of other party affinities, the high association between fathers’ and sons’ right-wing extremist attitudes is particularly striking.

Here is a sentence from the paper:

Young adults whose parents were very concerned about immigration to German during their childhood years have a 27 percentage point (60 percent) higher likelihood of also expressing strong concerns about immigration as young adults.

This of course should make you less confident of your anti-immigrant views, if indeed you hold them.  Similarly, the intergenerational transmission of particular religious beliefs is also a strong reason not to be very confident in them.  If you get your religious beliefs from your parents and other relatives, through whatever mechanism, rather than from God, well…why are your parents a more reliable source of knowledge about this question than anyone else’s parents?

Remember the recent Op-Ed by Larry Summers on the difficulty of repairing bridges rapidly?  Well, this problem has a new angle:

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Staten Island, was named after an Italian explorer. There is just one problem: The man is widely known as Giovanni da Verrazzano, with two z’s.

More than a half-century after the bridge opened, some New Yorkers are calling for the spelling error to be corrected. An online petition taking up the cause has brought renewed attention to the enduring discrepancy.

“By rectifying Verrazzano’s name, we’re really saying to all Italians and Italian-Americans that we respect them and appreciate them,” said Joseph V. Scelsa, the president of the Italian American Museum in Lower Manhattan.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority does not appear eager to tackle the issue. A spokesman for the authority, Christopher McKniff, said adjusting the bridge’s name would be an expensive and labor-intensive undertaking.

“At this time, we are not considering any name change for the Verrazano Bridge,” Mr. McKniff said in a statement that hewed to the one-z spelling.

Here is the full NYT story.

In his hunt for a libertarian center, he comes off as less angry about the state than many Republicans.

The piece is interesting throughout.  Yesterday Nate Silver tweeted:

Could very easily wind up with an outcome like Clinton 47%, Trump 41%, Johnson 10%, Stein/others 2%, or something in that vicinity.

This is a lengthy email from an MR reader who wishes to remain anonymous.  These are his words, not mine, everything which follows:

Back in December I asked you knew of any naive measures of  “gun murders / # of civilian guns” per country, and seeing where the US falls in this distribution.

Some time after I found this WaPo data set compiled in 2012 from the UN, Small Arms Survey, and others. (There is a “data caveat” I’ll point out after the plots below.)

Here’s what I did: dropped all data into a spreadsheet and calculated the number of homicides per 100,000 guns — simply (homicide by gun) / (total guns) * 100000. Call this “H” for simplicity.

This produces numbers in a ~0-20 range for “western countries. So “H = 2.5” –> 2.5 gun-caused homicides per 100,000 guns for the year in question (2005 I believe), by country.

Here are three very quick, ugly kernel density plots from R.

The raw data plots is pasted in the end of the email (apologies for messyness!)

The vertical lines are:  mean=green,  median=blue,  USA=red.

Total world, as a limiting case:

image

US is below mean and median:  US = 3.7,  mean = 91.0,   median = 6.0

EU countries (density excludes US): 

image (1)

US is just above mean, above median:  US = 3.7,  mean = 3.1,   median = 1.9

“Post-WWII westernized” countries:

image (2)

US is just above mean, above median:    US = 3.7,  mean = 3.1,   median = 1.5

The “westernized” countries were somewhat arbitrarily those with a long “westernizing” history post-WWII. Chosen quite ad-hoc and off-the-cuff; largely it means Eastern European countries were replaced by Canada, Australia, Japan, etc.

Immediate data caveat: My earlier spot-checking against the cited sources turned up a number of discrepancies, which I couldn’t quickly figure out — mostly small, some large. Eg. I recall that some EU countries saw order-of-magnitude differences when I put in “direct from source” numbers, which is worrisome. Unfortunately I never had time to examine these further (hence the delay in reply), but perhaps some enterprising undergraduate student would be interested!

The broad strokes are still interesting. Here are some quick ‘surprises’ for me:

– The US is no longer a massive outlier, although still above average for “westernized” plots.

– Japan’s H-score is much higher I expected, ~10x the number in Norway (and higher than England, Northern Ireland, Czech Republic – the later has much less strict control and lower H).

– The Netherlands came out ~6-7x higher than median (of EU/”westernized”); ~3x the US

– Taiwan seems quite high:  ~11x median of “westernized,” ~5x US.   Was not expecting this (but not sure why).

– Ireland is ~4.5x higher than Northern Ireland

– Belgium is closest to the US in the EU states, Belgium=3.9 vs US=3.7

– All surprises, perhaps all data size related:  Denmark, Netherlands, Japan, Taiwan, Ireland, Italy (higher than US, was not expecting that), Belgium, Luxembourg

There are many possible data concerns. Sample size is very important (the few data I spot-checked varied significantly over time). Measurement is almost certainly an issue, and I dread looking into differences in the definition of “homicide” for these countries. I suspect, however, that clever methods and data collection could still provide useful information about ranges of these values (an enterprising undergrad could probably make quite the impact with careful data examination/collection and some Bayesian “Locomotive Problem“-style work).

Because of data issues, I don’t think of this as “the final word” but rather an interesting first pass.

Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group, a political consultancy, has talked of the “J-curve”. His point is that as countries open up they become more volatile before they become more stable. Perhaps Britain’s debate on Brexit reveals a second J-curve towards the top of the development path: where folk feel safe enough to challenge the globalised establishment but not rich enough to be part of it. Hence it is the lower-middle class of wealthy and sophisticated societies, rather than citizens of poorer ones, who seem to be the vanguard of populist politics. It is notable that in Britain, as in other northern European countries, this is storming ahead a few years after the economic crisis, once some growth has returned and unemployment has fallen. It takes a dab of security to rebel against the system.

But, as with developing countries on the J-curve, the country will one day emerge from its limbo. In Mr Bremmer’s scheme, growing openness powers countries through the bend. For this new J-curve it is growing economic and cultural confidence about globalisation among the majority. Increasing numbers of Britain’s young people are going to university. Its immigrant population is growing and integrating successfully. The prevailing conception of nationality is becoming more civic (a function of values, not background) and less nativist. With each generation, the world’s integration is becoming steadily less controversial.

That is from Bagehot at The Economist.  Here is my previous post on related topics.

A key theme of the book is how the increased acceptance of gender fluidity and industrialization – which brought men out of the fields and into offices, where they have no inherent strengths compared to women – has destabilized traditional power structures.

[Frank] Browning said the gender revolution can help explain the resurgence of rightwing extremism in Europe and why it is possible for a former reality television show host to become the presumptive Republican nominee for US president – even though he has made racist, sexist and xenophobic comments.

“We’re going to see in a decade what we’ve seen in the last five years, a movement for which Trump happened to be the dandy on hand,” Browning said. “And gender is a big piece of that”. Browning said that today, men hold fewer positions of power and are being demoted in society. Simultaneously, people are exploring gender more openly and have easier access to online forums through which to explore differing types of gender and sexual expression.

Here is the article, I just ordered the book here.  Here is my earlier post on this topic.  File under speculative.

There is a new NBER working paper on this question by Michal Bauer, Christopher Blattman, Julie Chytilová, Joseph Henrich, Edward Miguel, Tamar Mitts:

In the past decade, nearly 20 studies have found a strong, persistent pattern in surveys and behavioral experiments from over 40 countries: individual exposure to war violence tends to increase social cooperation at the local level, including community participation and prosocial behavior. Thus while war has many negative legacies for individuals and societies, it appears to leave a positive legacy in terms of local cooperation and civic engagement. We discuss, synthesize and reanalyze the emerging body of evidence, and weigh alternative explanations. There is some indication that war violence especially enhances in-group or “parochial” norms and preferences, a finding that, if true, suggests that the rising social cohesion we document need not promote broader peace.

That is an all-star line-up of authors, and no this doesn’t mean any of those individuals are in favor of war.  That would be the fallacy of mood affiliation, and we all know that MR readers never commit the fallacy of mood affiliation…

That is a Mary Beard feature in the 3 June 2016 edition of the Times Literary Supplement.  Various luminaries were asked what they thought of Brexit.  My favorite answer came from Colm Tóibín:

The European Union, despite its flaws, or perhaps because of them, is a wholly rational institution.  Like most of us, it is in constant need of urgent reform and can handle anything except a crisis.  Even though it is deeply secular, the EU has performed miracles.  It has allowed France and Germany to move close to each other; it has allowed Irish and British ministers to meet as equals, which the Irish have enjoyed.   It can also make us laugh — the group photographs of the EU leaders after their meetings and the antics of the European Parliament are wholly ludicrous…

More brutal was Jan Morris:

Being politically in or out of Europe has had no impact at all on my own work, and I have no idea what it’s done for or to the cultural life of Britain.  For myself, I have long argued for a federal Britain within a federal Europe, but it was always a dream anyway, and I’ve woken up now.  If reasons you require, look around you!

Declan Kiberd had a good point:

They [the English] realized that in some ways England’s was an immensely stressed society, whose people had been so distracted by the British cultural project that they still faced an unresolved identity question of their own.  It’s a long time since Bernard Shaw described England as the last, most fully penetrated of the British colonies — which could be why its people feel such ambivalence about the more recent transnational scheme.

I do recommend that you all subscribe to the TLS.  If you would like yet another point of view, from Dissent, here is Richard Tuck with the Left case for Brexit.

That is a William Hazlitt essay from the Edinburgh Magazine of 1828, reprinted in Table-Talk (scroll to p.165), focusing on why the political uses of nicknames are so problematic.  It retains some relevance today:

The only meaning of these vulgar nicknames and party distinctions, where they are urged most violently and confidently, is, that others differ from you in some particular or other (whether it be opinion, dress, clime, or complexion), which you highly disapprove of, forgetting that, by the same rule, they have the very same right to be offended at you because you differ from them.  Those who have reason on their side do not make the most obstinate and grievous appeals to prejudice and abusive language.

…a nickname…is a disposable force, that is almost always perverted to mischief.  It clothes itself with all the terrors of uncertain abstraction, and there is no end of the abuse to which it is liable but the cunning of those who employ, or the credulity of those who are gulled by it.  It is a reserve of the ignorance, bigotry, and intolerance of weak and vulgar minds, brought up where reason fails, and always ready, at a moment’s warning, to be applied to any, the most absurd purposes…a nickname baffles reply.

…the passions are the most ungovernable when they are blindfolded.  That malignity is always the most implacable which is accompanied with a sense of weakness, because it is never satisfied with its own success or safety.  A nickname carries the weight of the pride, the indolence, the cowardice, the ignorance, and the ill-nature of mankind on its side.  It acts by mechanical sympathy on the nerves of society.

…”A nickname is the heaviest stone that the devil can throw at a man.”

There is more excellent analysis at the link, most of all on how the uses of nicknames avoids and runs away from the careful making and unpacking of specific charges.  Hazlitt notes the nickname can on the surface sound quite innocent yet nonetheless be a form of powerful invective.  For a while the Whigs were called “the Talents,” yet in a manner reeking of implicit scorn.

From Hazlitt, here is another scary part:

I have heard an eminent character boast that he had done more to produce the late war by nicknaming Buonaparte “the Corsican,” than all the state papers and the documents put together.

Here is a brief summary of the essay.  Hazlitt remains under-read and underappreciated.

For the pointer to this essay I thank Hollis Robbins.

Or perhaps I should rephrase that question: what would neo-reaction be if it were presented in a more coherent analytic framework?  (You’ll find other takes here; I like it better with the hyphen.)  Here is a list of propositions, noting that these are an intellectualized summary of a somewhat imagined collective doctrine, and certainly not a statement of my own views:

1. “Culturism” is in general correct, namely that some cultures are better than others.  You want to make sure you are ruled by one of the better cultures.  In any case, one is operating with a matrix of rule.

2. The historical ruling cultures for America and Western Europe — two very successful regions — have largely consisted of white men and have reflected the perspectives of white men.  This rule and influence continues to work, however, because it is not based on either whiteness or maleness per se.  There is a nominal openness to the current version of the system, which fosters competitive balance, yet at the end of the day it is still mostly about the perspectives of white men and one hopes this will continue.  By the way, groups which “become white” in their outlooks can be allowed into the ruling circle.

3. Today there is a growing coalition against the power and influence of (some) white men, designed in part to lower their status and also to redistribute their wealth.  This movement may not be directed against whiteness or maleness per se (in fact some of it can be interpreted as an internal coup d’etat within the world of white men), but still it is based on a kind of puking on what made the West successful.  And part and parcel of this process is an ongoing increase in immigration to further build up and cement in the new coalition.  Furthermore a cult of political correctness makes it very difficult to defend the nature of the old coalition without fear of being called racist; in today’s world the actual underlying principles of that coalition cannot be articulated too explicitly.  Most of all, if this war against the previous ruling coalition is not stopped, it will do us in.

4. It is necessary to deconstruct and break down the current dialogue on these issues, and to defeat the cult of political correctness, so that a) traditional rule can be restored, and/or b) a new and more successful form of that rule can be introduced and extended.  Along the way, we must realize that calls for egalitarianism, or for that matter democracy, are typically a power play of one potential ruling coalition against another.

5. Neo-reaction is not in love with Christianity in the abstract, and in fact it fears its radical, redistributive, and egalitarian elements.  Neo-reaction is often Darwinian at heart.  Nonetheless Christianity-as-we-find-it-in-the-world often has been an important part of traditional ruling coalitions, and thus the thinkers of neo-reaction are often suspicious of the move toward a more secular America, which they view as a kind of phony tolerance.

6. If you are analyzing political discourse, ask the simple question: is this person puking on the West, the history of the West, and those groups — productive white males — who did so much to make the West successful?  The answer to that question is very often more important than anything else which might be said about the contributions under consideration.

Already I can see (at least) four problems with this point of view.  First, white men in percentage terms have become a weaker influence in America over time, yet America still is becoming a better nation overall.  Second, some of America’s worst traits, such as the obsession with guns, the excess militarism, or the tendency toward drunkenness, not to mention rape and the history of slavery, seem to come largely from white men.  Third, it seems highly unlikely that “white men” is in fact the best way of disambiguating the dominant interest groups that have helped make the West so successful.  Fourth, America is global policeman and also the center of world innovation, so it cannot afford the luxury of a declining population, and thus we must find a way to make immigration work.

By the way, here is Ross Douthat on neo-reaction:

But while reactionary thought is prone to real wickedness, it also contains real insights. (As, for the record, does Slavoj Zizek — I think.) Reactionary assumptions about human nature — the intractability of tribe and culture, the fragility of order, the evils that come in with capital-P Progress, the inevitable return of hierarchy, the ease of intellectual and aesthetic decline, the poverty of modern substitutes for family and patria and religion — are not always vindicated. But sometimes? Yes, sometimes. Often? Maybe even often.

neoreaction

Anyway, let’s continue.

Who are the important neo-reaction thinkers?

Those who come immediately to mind are Aristotle, Hobbes, Montesquieu, Jonathan Swift, Benjamin Franklin, John Calhoun, James Fitzjames Stephens, Nietzsche, Carl Schmitt, Martin Heidegger, and Lee Kuan Yew.  For all of the fulminations against neo-reaction, the intellectual movement is not a flash in the pan.  Of course these thinkers were not operating in the cultural matrix laid out above, nonetheless they embody varying elements of elitism, non-egalitarianism, historical pessimism, and culturalism.  The most significant neo-reaction thinker today probably is Steve Sailer, who often comments on this blog in addition to writing his own.  By the way, both F.A. Hayek and Murray Rothbard were drawn to neo-reaction in their later years, and perhaps a separate post could be written on the complex connections between libertarianism and neo-reaction.

The miracle to my mind is that neo-reaction as an intellectual movement was relatively dormant for so long, not that it is coming back or will persist.

And maybe some of you are upset that I am even covering this topic, but neo-reaction, in varying forms, is a (the?) significant ideology in China, India, Russia, and Japan, and it is growing in popularity in Western Europe and of course America, where it has captured the presidential nomination of one of the two major parties.  It seems odd not to discuss it at all.

Is neo-reaction a racist movement?

I don’t “hang out” with neo-reaction, whatever that might mean, so I cannot speak from first-hand experience.  Still, I see overwhelming circumstantial evidence, including from the MR comments section, that the answer is yes, neo-reaction is very often racist.  (And by “racist” I mean not only a particular set of beliefs, but how they are held with a kind of obnoxious, self-pleased glee.)  If you read through the above propositions, it is easy enough to see why racists might find neo-reaction a congenial home.  And that is an important critique of neo-reaction, namely that the doctrine, when stated explicitly or understood clearly enough, encourages a very harmful racism and a variety of other forms of bad behavior.  Even if not every neo-reaction thinker is a racist himself or herself.

The early stages of the Trump campaign show clearly enough how publicly propagated neo-reaction disturbs the fabric and rhetoric of society.  And there is a cruelness to the humor one finds in neo-reaction which is all too revealing; more generally neo-reaction just does not seem so conducive to a deep generosity of spirit.

That all said, I think it is a category mistake to dismiss neo-reaction on the grounds of racism or prejudice.  There exists a coherent form of the doctrine perfectly consistent with the view that different races are intrinsically equal in both capabilities and moral worth, even if such a variant tends to get pushed out by the less salubrious elements.  Furthermore calling neo-reaction racist, as a primary response, seems to personalize the debate in a Trump-like way, ultimately playing into the strengths of neo-reaction and distracting the liberals, in the broad sense of that term, from building up the most appealing vision of their philosophy and doctrine.

Liberalism isn’t actually an automatic emotional default for most people on this planet, so being a scold is in the longer run a losing strategy.  I believe many current “democratic mainstream” thinkers genuinely do not understand how boring and unconvincing they are, as they live in bubbles filled with others of a similar bent.  And while neo-reaction does not get exactly right the nature of “the golden goose” in modern America, that is a question which modern progressivism rather aggressively avoids in its attempt to view the wealthy as an essentially inexhaustible ATM.

What about me?

As an undergraduate, I was deeply struck by my readings of the Spanish and Salamancan friars who protested against the New World enslavement of the Indians, as they were then called.  You can start with Bartolomé de las Casas.  Here was a doctrine that was anti-slavery, anti-oppression, pro-reason, pro-liberty, pro-individual rights, and analytically egalitarian, and on top of that based on actual real world experience with the subject matter.  On top of that, the overwhelming empirical fact is that people are far too willing to go tribal when it comes to politics.  We don’t need to encourage that any further, nor am I excited by the notion of setting tribe against tribe.

The world could be facing some fairly dicey times in the decades to come, mostly for geopolitical reasons.  I view the Spanish friars and their successors and offshoots — Montaigne, David Hume, Adam Smith, William Wilberforce, John Stuart Mill, Edmund Silberner, Martin Luther King  Jr., Gene Sharpe, Thomas Schelling, and some of the EU founders, among many others — as providing better and more useful guides to our world than neo-reaction.  Looking earlier, toss in Buddha and Jesus Christ and some of the Stoics as well.

Still, it would be a big mistake to simply dismiss neo-reaction, even though there are some rather easy and facile ways to do so.  It’s a wake-up call for the fragility of liberalism, a doctrine which sinks all too readily into its own dogmatic slumbers.

From 2012:

The Republican Party will continue to lose presidential elections if it comes across as mean-spirited and unwelcoming toward people of color, Donald Trump tells Newsmax.

Whether intended or not, comments and policies of Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates during this election were seen by Hispanics and Asians as hostile to them, Trump says.

“Republicans didn’t have anything going for them with respect to Latinos and with respect to Asians,” the billionaire developer says.

“The Democrats didn’t have a policy for dealing with illegal immigrants, but what they did have going for them is they weren’t mean-spirited about it,” Trump says. “They didn’t know what the policy was, but what they were is they were kind.”

Romney’s solution of “self deportation” for illegal aliens made no sense and suggested that Republicans do not care about Hispanics in general, Trump says.

“He had a crazy policy of self deportation which was maniacal,” Trump says. “It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote,” Trump notes. “He lost the Asian vote. He lost everybody who is inspired to come into this country.”

The GOP has to develop a comprehensive policy “to take care of this incredible problem that we have with respect to immigration, with respect to people wanting to be wonderful productive citizens of this country,” Trump says.

Here is the link, via Rebecca Berg and Robin Grier.  Does this get filed under “Model this” or “Solve for the Equilibrium”?  Or perhaps both?

Bob Davis asks that question.  I can think of a few hypotheses, none well-grounded:

1. It was first necessary for America to recover from recession, so people could be less scared, thus feeling sufficiently secure to go a bit crazy.

2. Rising expectations are required to sustain a backlash, and finally the economy was strong enough to deliver some of those.  This mechanism was discussed by Tocqueville in his book on the French Ancien Regime.  Of course this is a close cousin of #1.

3. Obama actually has been a towering and calming presence.  But after him…the deluge.

4. The “Great Man Theory of Trump.”  He has unique skills, and an unusual celebrity background, and the relevant variable is when he chose to actually run for President.

5. The institutional and intellectual capital of the Republican Party was finally run totally into the ground.  (But when exactly? And who perceived it as such other than Democrats?)

6. Americans have been paying closer attention to the terror attacks and refugee crisis in Europe than we traditionally might think, and thus they feel that the American system requires a radical wake-up call.

7. Traditional white males approached some kind of threshold where they realized from now on they will lose all political battles unless kind of radical rebellion is undertaken.  This hypothesis reminds me somewhat of the South’s decision to secede shortly before the Civil War.

8. Social media are more potent, and that helps populist sentiment, but populism isn’t actually any more popular these days (see Krugman, who notes Obama has fairly high approval ratings).

9. Noise.

These are just food for thought, I am not endorsing any of them.  And for the most part they are not mutually exclusive.